26 April 2019

IP Australia Launches 2019 Annual IP Report on World Intellectual Property Day

World IP Day 2019 World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated each year on the 26th of April.  This year, the theme is ‘Reach for Gold: IP and Sports’.  To read more about World IP Day 2019, and to explore how ‘innovation, creativity and the IP rights that encourage and protect them support the development of sport and its enjoyment around the world’, feel free to head on over to the website of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  Because this article is not about World IP Day, or the role of IP in sports.  It is about how IP Australia is marking the occasion – with the launch of its Australian Intellectual Property Report 2019.

As I reported at around this time last year, the 2018 annual report attracted a fairly negative response in certain circles, with InnovationAus reporter Stuart Kennedy calling it a ‘damning report card on patent filing’, after earlier writing disparagingly about the allegedly ‘shocking’ revelation that ‘poker machine king Aristocrat Technologies’ had been the top Australian-resident patent applicant for 2017 which, in its ‘quest to find fresh ways to relieve pokie players of their dough, crushed the patent application efforts of CSIRO by a factor of more than three.’

In light of last year’s experience, it is perhaps unsurprising that the ‘patents’ section of the 2019 IP Report avoids mention of the fact that Aristocrat was once again the top Australian filer.  As I reported back in January, in 2018 the company increased its haul of new standard patent applications by 60% over 2017, to 252 – reaching almost five times the number of applications (55) filed by CSIRO.  If the ratio of the number of applications filed by a leading commercial entity in the gaming industry to the number filed by Australia’s flagship public research organisation is any kind of measure of research output – which it emphatically is not – then this would be a far worse result than the previous year.  Of course, not all patents are created equal, and the truth is that there is no conflict in celebrating the international successes of both Aristocrat – a great Australian company in its field, setting aside personal views on the merits, or otherwise, of gambling – and CSIRO – which has generated globally-significant outcomes including influenza drug Relenza, polymer banknote technology, and key technologies underlying high-speed Wi-Fi, among many others.

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